Georges de Feure, a quintessential Art Nouveau designer
De Feure ‘Grecian’ vase c1900
An intriguing signature on the base of this lovely old vase. It’s crisply moulded, very heavy and obviously special. But who was Georges De Feure?
A factory? A studio? An artist?
An artist, it turns out – and not just any old artist. Georges de Feure (1868-1943) was at the epicentre of Art Nouveau at the moment it took off in Paris.
De Feure first made his name as a Symbolist painter, only later embracing the Art Nouveau aesthetic.
The artist at l’Âne Rouge
He was part of an arty elite that hung out at Montmartre hotspots such as l’Ane Rouge and le Chat Noir. His circle of friends included the composers Debussy, Ravel and Satie.
Ornamental panel commissioned by Maison Bing around 1901
A fascination with the femme fatale
As the century drew to a close, the influential art dealer, Siegfried Bing hired De Feure as head designer for his pavilion at the Paris World Fair of 1900.
Bing’s goal was to showcase the finest Art Nouveau (literally New Art ) France had to offer. If Siegfried Bing was Monsieur Art Nouveau, De Feure was his right hand man, turning his hand to glass, ceramics, textiles and even furniture. Quite the Compleat Designer – except, of course, that no one used the word ‘designer’ back then.
The Bing pavilion was a triumph, establishing Art Nouveau as the aesthetic of the era. De Feure, meanwhile, was at the height of his fame. The following year, he received the Legion d’Honneur for his services to French decorative arts.
Art Nouveau never acquired the democratic appeal of Art Deco (and to be fair, it never set out to.) By the end of WW1, its languid lines were looking passé and pre-War. It had run its course.
De Feure dabbled with Deco, then turned to a career in theatre design in London. But not before embarking on a short lived but extraordinary adventure as an aviation designer…
The DF2 monoplane (right), on display at le Bon Marché in Paris. The designer bowed out of the business after he was injured during trials
Quite a career!
And it just shows how the simplest questions can lead you off into the ether…